AI-enabled video games: Can AI become the next game designer?

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AI-enabled video games: Can AI become the next game designer?

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AI-enabled video games: Can AI become the next game designer?

Subheading text
Video games have become more sleek and interactive over the years, but is AI really making more intelligent games?
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • April 27, 2023

    With artificial intelligence (AI) advancements, machines can generate video games using algorithms and machine learning (ML). While AI-generated games can potentially offer unique and innovative features, it remains to be seen if they can match the creativity and intuition of human game designers. Ultimately, the success of AI-generated games will depend on how well they can balance innovation and user experience with the expectations of human players.

    AI-enabled video games context

    AI-enabled video games have allowed machine learning to evolve enough to beat humans at certain games. For example, IBM's DeepBlue system beat the Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997 by processing the different ways humans play the game. Today's largest ML labs, such as Google's DeepMind and Facebook's AI research arm, are using more advanced methods to teach machines how to play more sophisticated and complex video games. 

    The labs use deep neural networks that enable devices to process layers and layers of data that become more accurate in associating images and texts over time. Video games can now feature crisp resolutions, open worlds, and intuitive non-playable characters that can interact with players in various ways. However, researchers agree that no matter how smart AI can get, they are still controlled by specific rules. When AIs are allowed to create video games by themselves, these games will most likely be too unpredictable to be playable.

    Despite the limitations, AI-generated video games have already begun to emerge in the market. These games are created using ML algorithms that can analyze the patterns and behaviors of players to create personalized gaming experiences. The games are designed to adapt to the preferences of the individual player. As the player progresses through the game, the AI system generates new content and challenges to keep the player engaged. 

    Disruptive impact

    AI's potential to create more complex worlds, characters, and game level designs is immense. In 2018, Royal Academy of Engineering research fellow Mike Cook streamed on the gaming platform Twitch how an algorithm he created (called Angelina) is designing games in real time. While Angelina can only design 2D games, for now, it does get better by building on previous games it assembled. The early versions are unplayable, but Angelina has learned to take the good parts of each game it designed to create a much better updated version. 

    Cook says that in the future, AI in video games will become a co-designer that gives real-time suggestions to their human collaborators to improve the gameplay experience. This approach is expected to speed up the game development process, allowing smaller game studios to scale up quickly and compete with larger studios in the industry. Additionally, AI can help designers create more immersive and personalized gaming experiences for players. By analyzing player behavior and preferences, AI can adjust gameplay difficulty levels, tweak environments, and even suggest challenges to keep players engaged. These features can lead to a more dynamic gaming experience that evolves as the player progresses through the game, making the entire experience conducive to repeat play.

    Implications of AI-enabled video games

    Wider implications of AI-enabled video games may include:

    • The use of generative adversarial networks (GAN) to build more believable worlds by training algorithms to accurately copy (and improve on) real-life references.
    • Gaming companies relying on AI players to playtest games and discover bugs much faster.
    • AI that can invent scenarios as the game progresses based on the player’s preferences and personal data (i.e., some levels might reflect the player’s hometown, favorite food, etc.).
    • AI-generated video games may impact social behavior by promoting addictive behavior, social isolation, and unhealthy lifestyles among players.
    • Data privacy and security concerns as game developers may collect and use personal data to enhance the gaming experience.
    • Development of new technologies and innovative game mechanics, which can accelerate the adoption of virtual and augmented reality tech.
    • Reduced need for human game designers and programmers, leading to job losses. 
    • Increased energy consumption of gaming hardware and the production of electronic waste.
    • Various health implications, such as improving cognitive function or increasing sedentary behavior.
    • Outside industries, like marketing, that can integrate these AI gaming innovations into the gamification of their operations and services.

    Questions to consider

    • How else do you think AI will revolutionize the gaming industry?
    • If you’re a gamer, how has AI improved your gaming experience?